Home again, home again

“To market, to market to buy a fat pig. Home again, home again jiggity jig.” It felt good to wake in my own room this morning, but it was not without its problems. My legs hurt like crazy thanks to my wonderfully cuddly cat who insists on sleeping against my right leg. She is also so heavy that I have a tough time moving her in the middle of the night. I finally shifted and then she proceeded to plop right up by my left arm. It is really a no win with her. Both Roger and Sophia were pretty happy to have me home and they stayed with me throughout the night. James said the week I was gone, he barely saw them.

Owl bird feeder

Flocked evergreen

Ice crystals on the chokecherry trees

This morning when I finally was awake enough to look out the window, it must have been around 8:30 a.m., I saw the fog rolling in and the trees were starting to look like they had been flocked before being set out. I quickly dressed and grabbed the camera. This first picture is from the upper deck facing to the east. For the others, I actually went outside and walked in the snow and found objects that were hit with the fog. It was interesting because when I took the first picture the fog seemed to be in the distance out of town or across the creek. By the time I made it downstairs and pulled on a coat to go outside, the trees had been hit and the frost on the clothes line reminded me it is time to remove the clothespins for another season.

The day turned out to be a sunny bright day, and while I am not out and about, I am in middle of trying to sort out the events of the week to pull together a message for church tomorrow as we light the candle of Peace. I will try to post that message so you can see how I have found the events of the past week to sort of throw a little irony into that whole idea of a Peace candle. Perhaps we should all stand shoulder to shoulder with lit candles protesting for the world to be at peace.

Enough for now, hope you have had a restful day!!

Evening sites/sights

Moon above the clouds

Moon in the trees

This past Sunday was the big Super Moon of 2017. As fate would have it, Paulina and I were driving on Sunday when the moon was rising and to top it off there was such a heavy cloud cover that the only thing we could see of the moon was a dim light through one of the clouds in front of us. Fortunately I had captured the almost Super Moon on Saturday night right after we had supper. I looked out the east kitchen window and there it was peaking over the horizon floating up through a ribbon of clouds. It was very pretty especially through the trees and with the blue background. It helped that it was not totally dark. As my late great-aunt Mandy would say, “It was not quite dark, dark.” So the pictures above and beside and around that have anything to do with a moon are from that night to the east of my house across the dike.

Sunset on the campus of University of Jamestown in ND on Mon., Dec. 4, 2017

On Monday evening, I went up to campus to check out practice with Paulina and her friends. It was wonderful to be greeted by many of the other throwers. Of course I expected a hi from Alex (former LHS athlete) and Katie (Paulina’s roommate) and Becca (has thrown with her for two years) but when the sophomore from Mandan came and gave me a half hug greeting, I was quite touched. I stayed on the bench just watching and eventually talking to Coaches Clark and Lemm for a good part of the practice. I sure enjoyed the time there and had a wonderful visit with both of those coaches. They have really been great role models and good examples of how to be coaches for these young men and women. As we were leaving the Larson Center to go to supper, I took the sunset picture that you see to the right. Hopefully I have been able to cut the license plates off the bottom of the picture. I really wish I had a filter to take out the things I don’t want shared on the blog. Perhaps that will be one of my Christmas wishes, if not to get the filter, than to learn to use what I already have. Ha!! Often with us old foggies that is more of the problem. At any rate, I went along to eat with the throwers and it was great! Later I went to Paulina and Katie’s room where we watched The Voice to hear the performances of the Top 10 hoping to make the Top 8. By the time I returned to Jessica’s place, I was tired enough to go to sleep and rest up for the second day of twins.

Lily in the bouncer

Marshall holding his own spoon.

It is Thursday as I am writing this, and I have only one more night to sleep here and get up to the twin’s  voices of squeals and giggles and grunts. I have sure enjoyed this week and can’t wait to see them at Christmas. I suppose by that time Marshall will have figured out crawling and Lily will be near pulling herself up. For starting out as premature babies, they have advanced leaps and bounds and they won’t be little babies for much longer. Of course there is always that weekend in Bismarck if we can swing things around to get there. We shall see…. Wishing all of you safe travels and happy days of preparation for the upcoming holiday season!

Twin pictures

Hey Lily look how I can tip sideways!

Playing “Touched you last.”

Yesterday I took a few pictures of the twins doing some things around the house. Of course I could not resist starting with their little chairs. A legislative friend of Jessica’s gave them the chairs and it is a great gift that will continue to be a great gift as they grow into them more and more. Lily already tried to crawl up onto the chair and then when on slides out as if going down a great hill. I bet next year they would love to come to my house and ride sled down the dike. Of course we officially never, ever do anything like that because of the rules and regulations surrounding the dike, and especially because I am the first to complain if anyone else does it. Ha!! All true! So at any rate hope you enjoy the pictures and the captions.

Playing on the blanket. Lily crawls and Marshall rolls and between the two of them it is a race to see who can get into more items off the blanket or off limits.

Between bites I was having them suck pacifier as I was trying to feed both at one time.

Marshall is wondering if Lily is ever going to finish so he can eat more.

Chilling out watching Sesame Street.

 

In Jamestown with the twins

This week I am taking some time to visit my family in Jamestown. I am specifically spending time with Jessica and watching Lily and Marshall this morning. What personalities! I still have that way old idea that at age 7 months babies should be about eat, sleep and some diaper changes. Marshall let me know when it was time for food while Lily crawled over to the toys and pulled out the one she prefers. What outfits. He has finally decided to nap and she is rocking in her swing. I made a dash for the bathroom now might find a snack before round two. I will try to enjoy this week as much as possible. Although the view out the window pretty much says housebound for now. We are being hit with the first December snow. I wonder if that counts as Christmas snow like in Frosty the Snowman

Kitchen/garden clutter and zucchini jelly

Orange Zucchini jelly

In my last post I wrote of getting rid of more clutter, particularly in the craft area. Today my thing to mention is about the kitchen. I have no great stories of cleaning or organizing or even sorting, though I did manage to toss out two raggedy looking oven mitts that were causing more burns than they were preventing. I still prefer pliers to take out the steak plates and the small bread pans. Last week, I finally had enough of the zucchini on the counter. I took the two large ones and shredded them up and turned it into a batch of zucchini bread and one of jelly. There was even enough left to put two bags into the freezer for later.

The jelly (in the picture above you can see 3 pints and 3 1/2 pints) is a recipe I have posted before, but I will leave it at the very bottom for anyone new to this site. The flavor comes from the gelatin of your choice. It calls for orange, but you can really use anything that suits your fancy in terms of jelly. I didn’t happen to over boil this batch, so it is a bit more runny than some of my others in the past. I did notice that this time the orange flavor really reminded me of those little baby aspirin that we used to get way back before anyone knew that children should not be eating real aspirin.

Funny story on those pills. There was a near tragedy at our house way back when. My mother found my brother and sister with a bottle of empty baby aspirin and she wasn’t sure who had ingested more. My brother was older and when she asked them what happened, he pointed to my sister and said she is the one who ate them all. As expected, my mother swooped up her little girl and rushed to the hospital. There it was decided to keep her for the night and monitor her. They didn’t see the need to cause her excessive trauma by pumping her stomach since they were not sure how much or if she had actually eaten any of the pills. The truth is no one was sure how many pills were even in the container. She survived the night and when it was all said and done my brother confessed to having eaten the pills. He blamed her because he figured she wouldn’t get in as much trouble as he would because he was older. True story!!

Orange Zucchini Jelly (Sharon’s version)

6 cups of grated zucchini-no peelings, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1 cup crushed and drained pineapple, 6 cups of sugar and 2 packages of orange Jell-O.

Boil the 6 cups of zucchini for 15 minutes on medium high. This may seem impossible without extra liquid, but believe me it has enough juice to make this work. (If you use frozen try to thaw it and drain as much of the excess liquid as possible, or boil it off. Add the lemon juice and pineapple and sugar and boil for 6 minutes. Stir this so the sugar does not stick to the bottom and use a fairly large container as the sugar doubles the volume. Take off the heat and add two boxes of Jell-O (flavor of your desire). I have used orange, apricot, raspberry, strawberry, and even lime. Ladle into jars that have been washed and are hot. Seal up with fresh lids, no need to process. If by chance your lids do not seal, put in the refrigerator and use within a month.

In the 15 plus years that I have used this recipe, I may have had a few jars go bad. Mostly the issue is making sure that your jars are clean, your lids are new and that you bring the mixture to a full rolling boil for the amount of time listed in the directions. As always if it is moldy or smells bad, do not eat it. That is a good general rule for all foods, especially those we can ourselves. Good luck and hope you are able to enjoy this jelly.

More on the De-cluttering

My most recent efforts on the de-cluttering task has been centered around finishing projects. I started by sitting in my rocking chair in my bedroom and making a mental list of works in progress. I had 16 items before I even paused to look around the room from container to tub to box and figure out what was inside. Let’s see if I can recreate that list here: 1. yellow and green afghan, 2. multicolored afghan, 3. blue and white beanie, 4. giraffe dishtowel, 5. calf dishtowel, 6. cat dishtowel, 7. pig dishtowel, 8. knit blanket, 9. kid pj’s, 10. pile of torn pants, 11. Christmas welcome crewel, 12. stack of baby blankets, 13. stack of blankets (Vic. material), 14. Smurf crewel, 15. t-shirt rug, 16. fix doll–make clothing….and the list goes on.

broken doll

Fixed doll

I ended up completing #9 and #16 except for the clothing part. I am still trying to make wearable patterns, but I found an unfinished pillow that will turn into a bed for the doll and found some blocks from that fleece blanket project which is not even on the list that can be used to make a doll blanket. I have changed my attitude from completing projects to eliminating clutter. While I was finishing up the pj’s, I realized that since I already had black thread in the machine, it would be a good time to fix up James’ wind pants. The sewing let loose on the zippers at the bottom of the legs, and the hems were a mess because they were too long. The result is that he now has another pair of pants for his morning workout and I don’t have to figure out where to store those pants while cutting them up for something useful.

pajama pants finished

Drawstring

I want to show the pajama pants separately. These were started two or three Christmas breaks ago, but we never got them finished. I was trying to help Victoria with a few things she had started, but did not know how to finish. She was never taught how to read a pattern and some things did not make sense. Pants can be difficult, I even had myself off at one point here. They were already cut and the inseam was finished, but they were packed away all this time. Before I finished off the waist band, I realized that without someone to measure, I didn’t know how tight to make the elastic. I ended up putting two small button holes in the front facing of the waistband, which was just the top folded over. The pants now have elastic and a drawstring. I am really excited. Now I know how to do this and can do it again and again. Maybe….

The best part of this story for me is the de-clutter part. With the work of this day besides the pj’s and doll that will go to two children, I was able to put a pair of pants back in the drawer, empty two spools of thread (two black spools were really near the end), eliminate a piece of elastic and one shoe string from my stash. And, I will eventually get a few more items out the door with the doll accessories, more on that later. All in all Tuesday was a great day. Besides that I have made a few rows of progress on those afghans. Hopefully they will get finished yet. Ya!!!

Message of Nov. 12 Preparing for Christ

Pew candles

Nativity set

I have not posted my messages consistently. I sometimes am not sure that I should share them as publicly as this blog might. I am still in the learning phases and not sure if what I say is always on track. At any rate, here is the one from a few weeks ago. The picture was from this last week when we decorated the church for Advent.

The scriptures used were: Matthew 25:1-13, Amos 5:18-24 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18. The title was “Preparing for Christ.”

Some of you can probably tell from the guests we have with us this morning that we have had a busy weekend. Actually for me it started Thursday, and I am almost embarrassed to tell you this one because you might have second thoughts about me continuing here in this capacity. On Thursday morning I went with James to school thinking that I was to substitute for the Family and Consumer Science teacher. I originally thought that I was to go in on Thursday and Friday, but James kept asking me why I thought it was for both days since there was no school on Friday. That should have been my clue, but I didn’t pay attention. The secretary who makes the calls for substitutes was out of the office, and I didn’t want to bother anyone else, so I just went in. We were there a little before 8 and as I was waiting in the teacher’s work area for the secretaries substitute to get there to give me the information and a key to the room, and who walks in but the teacher that I thought I was replacing. I had the wrong day. I was there a week early, and yes this coming week, I will be there for her both Thursday and Friday. I felt rather foolish, but I was also relieved because I felt like someone had just given me a day, a whole day to do whatever I wanted to do.

I ended up going home and getting to work. I went to my office and began sorting little nooks and crannies and piles of this and stacks of that, and I actually tossed out and cleared out and rearranged things that I have not touched in about 5 years. Let me say, it felt good. I was finally in “the mood” to let go and clear it out. I also cleaned off the top shelf of my computer desk and of the bookcase in the room and on one I put the pictures of the grandchildren I have baptized and on the other, I put my collection of angels. Part of this plan was to get a jump on decorating for Christmas, and it was fun.

On Friday with James home from school in celebration of Veteran’s Day, he and I spent the entire day getting the house ready for our company. We cleared and cleaned and dusted and washed and even rearranged a little to make sure that there would be places for cribs and toys and bottles and all the things that come with little ones and the adults they bring with them. In fact by the time the day was over, we even put one of the vehicles out of the garage so they could drive in and no little one would have to be taken out of the car and subjected to that awful wind we had going on Friday. Come to think of it we also set out more of our seasonal decorations in the living and dining rooms, and even had a pot of homemade vegetable soup on the stove for supper. It was a grand day of preparation, and we were both pretty wiped out tired when it was over.

I would bet that any one of us in this room can think of times when they went all out getting ready for someone coming to their home for a weekend or a holiday. We all take the time to do at least a little something extra in anticipation of the visit. Even if we don’t need to redo rooms or areas of our homes, there is always something that we do in an effort of preparedness for our guest. We treat those visits as something special; at least I get that impression from listening to what I hear people say about those visits.

Our story in Matthew today is somewhat similar in that the 10 women, who are the focus of this story, are getting ready to see someone special. This is not a case of someone coming to their home, but instead they are waiting for someone to pass by so they can join in going to a special event. They are waiting for the bridegroom to walk past them so they can follow along to the wedding and attend the wedding feast. This is a big deal, and even if we know nothing about the procedures for the weddings or the status of the people in the days of Jesus, this story alone gives you the idea of the importance of this event. Simply put there are 10 bridesmaids waiting to go into the wedding feast with the bridegroom. He is delayed for whatever reason and they fall asleep as they are waiting. When the groom comes they grab their lamps and their oil and follow him, except that only 5 have the extra oil they need, while the other 5 have not made the effort to get their oil and they end up asking the others for help and they are turned down.

This could be a rather confusing story. If we are to think of this story as Jesus being the bridegroom and any of us being the 10 waiting for him to come and take us to the feast which is inside the doors of heaven, our question today becomes, what is it about this lamp that we have that needs to be ready? The lamp in essence is our faith/us that needs to be ready. This extra oil that goes in the lamp is not something we can borrow from someone else as the doors to the wedding feast open. We need to have ourselves, our beliefs, our lives in order when the time comes for that wedding feast to begin. This is true either for the end of time, or the end of our time. It isn’t something we can decide or change or prepare after the time comes, it is something we need to do—now.

Again this week there have been events that have—let’s just say given me pause. And though I have been bothered by the events, I have been bothered even more by certain reactions to these events. I will explain: This past week on Wednesday the Ministerial Association met here and after a few of us had lunch together. As we were visiting afterwards, I asked the others what they felt about the church shooting in Texas in terms of having someone either inside or outside of the building on guard with a gun. As much as I was shocked and saddened by the reports that someone would walk into a church and kill people, I was equally shocked to hear one of the reporters asking why or where were the people who were supposed to be standing guard with guns of their own.

Since that day, I have considered how vulnerable everyone in the pews here would be. Then I remembered how we dedicated the doors. I had been very intentional about making sure the words said the doors were there to keep out the cold and the rain, but they were also to open wide to welcome the people inside. I don’t know how you prepare for a thing such as that but let me just say I don’t think that I am in favor of having our ushers or anyone in our building on guard, packing a weapon.

The other words that blew me away this week were in regard to the person running for an office and being accused of inappropriate relations with a young girl many years ago. I do not want to debate the truth or untruth of the accusations or even the right or wrong of the possible event, but in the firestorm of comments afterwards to have someone compare that supposed relationship to the relationship of Mary and Joseph to me is nothing short of sacrilege.

Now perhaps for us, here in the place that Hamlin Garland called the Middle Border in this area of the northern plains, maybe we are sheltered from all those things happening in Texas and Alabama and Hollywood and almost everywhere along the coasts where the biggest of cities are. Maybe we don’t have any of those “crazy” things going on. Maybe we can just keep the news turned off and go about our quiet little lives and not think about any of these things… And maybe in truth there is not a thing we can do about either of the two events I mentioned in particular other than offer up a prayer. But, we certainly need to consider how we reach out to those in our own family and community who are hurting, and people hurt in so many ways. We also need to consider what we do to seek justice for those around us. Do we stand up to those who would run over the weakest around us, or do we help those in need by giving them what help we can even if it is pointing them to the proper agencies or outreach programs.

The scripture lessons leading us to Advent (and the proclamation of John the Baptist—prepare the way of the Lord) this year are not so easy to hear. This parable about the 10 Bridesmaids with the idea of preparedness is just the beginning. Jesus in those days leading up to his crucifixion is trying to prepare the disciples for what is to come. In the days of the early Christian church, as the stories of Jesus’ life on earth are passed on to others and are finally written down for generations after—for us, the belief is very strong that Jesus will return almost immediately. The apostles, even Paul, wanted to instill the idea of being ready for Christ’s return. Now here we are 2,000 years later and we are still waiting. Some of the commentaries on this scripture lesson would have us think in terms of what we can do to make life better for others. The bottom line is that Christ says we don’t know the day or the hour and we are to have our lives, our faith, our commitment and our relationship with God in order. But we can’t stop there, perhaps we can’t repent for our friends or family, we can’t commit for them or have that relationship with God in their stead, but we can be an example, a witness and the Christian friend who cares and prays for them. Let’s go this week as examples of preparing our lives not just for the upcoming season where we celebrate the coming of the baby Jesus, but preparing our lives for the Christ who came to be our Savior. Amen!

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